Vanes “The Nightmare” Martirosyan (32-0) has all the outward signifiers of a champion. He’s trained by Freddie Roach. He was a 2004 Olympian. He’s undefeated. He’s a long-armed and athletic puncher, he moves well, and uses his reach to his advantage. His only problem is that in a seven-year career, he hasn’t yet gotten around to fighting anyone he could brag about beating. With Erislandy Lara, he has finally signed on for a bout against an excellent fighter. And he may well regret it.
It’s not as if Martirosyan hasn’t beaten anyone decent. He whipped rugged local New York favorite Joe Greene at Yankee Stadium in 2010. He’s decisioned the tricky Kassim Ouma, and TKO’d the old warhorse Saul Roman. But Vanes has earned the reputation of loudly challenging top fighters, and then failing to sign the line to actually make the fights happen. He has at times appeared willing to waste his prime years on mediocre competition. There’s no better proof of that than the fact that his last two fights -- at the height of his reputation, when he’s been mentioned as a legitimate opponent for the top 154-pounders in the world -- have been against Richard Gutierrez and Troy Lowry. For someone of Martirosyan’s talents, that amounts to taking a year off.